Play with owners and with other dogs provides your dog not only with an outlet for physical exercise, but also helps to fill your dog’s social needs.
Insufficient exercise can contribute to problem behaviors including destructiveness (chewing and digging), investigative behavior (garbage raiding), hyperactivity, unruliness, excitability, attention-getting behaviors, and even some forms of barking. It is especially important to ensure that a dog’s need for exercise and social interaction have been met prior to leaving the dog alone at home and prior to lengthy crating or confinement sessions.
Taking your dog for a walk is good exercise and can be enjoyable and healthy for you as well. From an early age, you should accustom your puppy to a collar and leash. A flat nylon or leather collar or a leash and body harness usually works well. However, since socialization at this age is very important, ensure as much play and exercise with healthy, vaccinated dogs as possible. A puppy class might be a good place to meet and play with other puppies and their owners. Practice walking skills in your own yard first. Put your puppy on a leash and, with your voice and a small tug, or perhaps a food or toy reward as a prompt, encourage it to follow you. Reward the good behavior with praise. Keep initial walks short to encourage compliance. For adult dogs that pull excessively, a head halter or a no-pull harness may help settle the dog and make walks more pleasant. Keep in mind that the walk does not have to be long. In fact, a short 10- to 15-minute “sniff” walk can be very enjoyable for your dog. Even on longer walks you can alternate periods of controlled walking at a heel with periods where the dog can explore and sniff the environment. Putting these sniffing and exploration times on a release command such as “OK,” helps the dog to understand that the controlled walk is to be maintained until the release command is given. Dogs find the scents in the environment stimulating and interesting and a good “sniff” walk can enrich your dog’s day.
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